If the words ‘afternoon tea’ conjure up soggy white bread egg or cucumber sandwiches and cup cakes (which we used to call fairy cakes) with lurid icing, sprinkles and silver balls that chip your teeth, then think again. To be honest this is more or less what I thought I’d be in for. So we went for our afternoon tea yesterday with little idea of what to expect. Luckily, though, we had the sense to forego lunch beforehand.
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With tall palms fanning the air around us, we were sitting beneath a hibiscus tree with deep pink flowers on a little terrace shoehorned into the hillside, looking out over the bay with a flotilla of brightly painted fishing boats drawn up on the beach. We were enjoying salads, and chatting to the couple at an adjoining table. After three days at sea, they had docked earlier that morning, and had left their cruise ship (one of two in Funchal harbor, Madeira that day) and hotfooted it to take the red hop-on-hop-off bus to this small restaurant in Câmara de Lobos in search of the black scabbardfish. The woman was an aficionado of this Madeiran delicacy.
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